The trail to the Joffre Lakes has been called one of BC’s most beautiful hikes by more than one website. Joffre Lakes Provincial Park lies past Pemberton, which means it’s about a three-hour drive north of Vancouver. But with an early wakeup call and a straight journey up the Sea to Sky Highway, hiking all or a portion of the Joffre Lakes Trail in one day is doable. The trail takes hikers to three different lakes—aptly named Lower, Middle, and Upper Joffre Lakes. The round-trip from Upper Joffre Lake is 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) and takes an average of four hours to complete. The trail is also very busy on weekends, but the glacier-fed turquoise lakes are undoubtedly worth the drive and crowds.
For experienced hikers, the Lions Binkert Trail is one of the most difficult hikes near Vancouver. The Lions themselves are the North Shore mountain range’s two most recognizable peaks. Any local will be able to point them out to you. To hike up to these monstrosities and take in the incredible view of Vancouver and Howe Sound, it’s a round-trip of 16 kilometers (10 miles). Read a detailed description of the hike, which begins in Lions Bay, on the Vancouver Trails website before deciding to conquer the Lions.
The Stawamus Chief—known locally as just the Chief—is another popular hike near Vancouver. Located in Squamish, the Chief is a granite dome and is one of the largest granite monoliths in the world. The 11-kilometer (6.8-mile) round-trip hike offers incredible views of picturesque Howe Sound and is split into three peaks: First, Second, and Third Peak. The Chief is classified as an intermediate hike, and there are chains and ladders throughout the trail to assist hikers in reaching the summit.
Dog Mountain is a short and easy hike on Mount Seymour, which is one of North Vancouver’s top attractions. The five-kilometer (three-mile) round-trip hike is well marked and has amazing views of Vancouver at the end—when the weather is cooperating, that is! The Dog Mountain Trail is only accessible from June to October, as snow begins to fall on Mount Seymour in November. But this means it transforms from an incredible hiking route to a top snowshoe trail instead.
There are several fantastic hikes to do within Garibaldi Provincial Park, which sits off the Sea to Sky Highway between Squamish and Whistler. Firstly, there’s the nine-kilometer (5.6-mile) one-way hike to Garibaldi Lake, which is a beautiful glacier-fed lake surrounded by mountains. It’s an intermediate hike, with an elevation gain of nearly 900 meters (2,953 feet). Other options within the park include the Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge Trails, which both offer incredible views of Garibaldi Lake and the mountains.
St. Mark’s Summit is a part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail in Cypress Provincial Park, home to Cypress Mountain, the most popular place to go skiing and snowboarding in winter. St. Mark’s Summit is an 11-kilometer (6.8-mile) round-trip trek, which offers stunning views of Howe Sound from the top. The trail is classified as intermediate, and many locals recommend enjoying a picnic at the peak on a warm summer’s day. Visitors can hike the trail from June until November; it then becomes accessible only by snowshoe.
Named Diez Vistas Trail because of its 10 views, this path takes hikers around Buntzen Lake in Anmore. It overlooks the Indian Arm, North Vancouver, and Burrard Inlet. It is one of the longest hikes near Vancouver—a loop totaling 15 kilometers (9.3 miles), which takes an average of six to seven hours to complete. It also hosts the Diez Vista 50- and 100-kilometer trail races annually. Although it’s categorized as intermediate, locals admit it’s closer to the difficult side of intermediate, due to the challenging and technical terrain.
One of the most difficult hikes near Vancouver, Crown Mountain offers the most amazing views from its North Vancouver summit. It stands behind Grouse Mountain in Lynn Headwaters Provincial Park. The trail is 9.8 kilometers (six miles) round-trip, which is best accessed by taking the Skyride to the top of the mountain and beginning from the Alpine Trail. Vancouver Trails admits that “what makes this trail so difficult is you have to hike down a very steep trail into Crown Pass before hiking up the steep side of Crown Mountain, then return the same route.”
Located in Deep Cove, the easternmost part of North Vancouver, Quarry Rock is a heavily trafficked and easy Vancouver hike year-round. Compared to other treks on this list, the trail is only four kilometers (2.5 miles) round-trip. The reward at the end includes amazing views of Deep Cove. With its blue water and pine trees, it’s a very British Columbian vista. It’s best to visit in the early morning to avoid the crowds.